If you need legal representation, or even just have questions about your legal rights, your best bet will be to find a lawyer. A lawyer can help you to figure out any legal problems related to family law, housing, bankruptcy, disability and the work place, criminal cases, and immigration. But finding a lawyer can be a long and expensive process that many people cannot afford. You may, however, be able to find free legal aid. These legal services have lawyers that work pro bono. What pro bono means is “for the public good”. This article will help you to find the situations in which you can definitely find a pro bono lawyer.
If you are facing criminal charges, and you cannot afford to find your own lawyer, you have a constitutional right to a lawyer on the governments’ dime. At your request, the public defenders office can appoint you an attorney who can represent you when you go to court to be formally charged with a criminal offense. Finding a quality defense attorney will not be an easy task though. Since the 1963 Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court decision, that requires states to appoint a defense attorney to those who cannot afford one, the population in American prisons has grown immensely. The recommended case load for a public attorney is way below the actual caseload provided to them. It is estimated that it would take about a year and a half for a public attorney to provide a years worth of work, due to Americas’ “hard-on-crime” policies. Also, over half of the state systems do not allow a defense attorney to turn down cases they don’t have time for. By giving these lawyers too much of a work load, the quality of their work is going down. This is because they do not have enough time to deal with each case. But don’t let this dissuade you, after all, free legal help could save you years if you happened to represent yourself and fail.
If you have been injured and are going to sue, you can find a lawyer who will operate on a contingency fee. Although the legal services they provide will not be free, the lawyer will not collect any payment if and when they recover money for you, at which point the lawyer takes the agreed upon percentage of any recovery. However, this can add up to thousands of dollars once you get your settlement. But luckily, the judge will usually order your adversary to pay you the costs of your legal fees.
You may qualify for legal aide. What this is is a governmentally funded lawyer who represents people with low income. There are a variety of scenarios in which point you may be represented, including eviction defense, being denied unemployment compensation and other benefits, and even problems with consumer credit. However, due to federal funding cut backs, you will find that legal assistance is only available for a few types of issues, and the wait list for such a scenario may be quite lengthy.
Finally, if you find yourself involved in an issue of social justice, you may be able to find a lawyer pro bono. This is limited to social justice that has implications that go beyond your individual situation. A few examples of these claims are sexual harassment in the workplace, abuse by a spouse, discrimination by a housing complex or employment, issues impeding on your freedom of speech or religion, access to medical treatment, or environmental pollution.
So if you are having difficulties affording a lawyer, always look and see if you can find a lawyer to represent you pro bono. They are there to help you when you are struggling through any sort of injustice.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.